US assures Phl of 'full support' in arbitration bid

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The United States has assured the Philippines of its full support in its arbitration case to resolve the territorial dispute with China over a number of areas in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement on Wednesday that US Secretary of State John Kerry called the arbitration proceedings a "step in the right direction."

The DFA added that Kerry "gave his full support to the arbitration efforts in his remarks before members of the press and later in his meeting with Del Rosario at the State Department on April 2."

The meeting between Kerry and Del Rosario is the first between the chief diplomats of the US and the Philippines since the former senator assumed his new position early this year.

“The Philippines is one of our five Asia-Pacific allies and a very, very important relationship at this point in time when there are tensions over the South China Sea, where we support a code of conduct,” Kerry said in his statement before the press. “We are deeply concerned about some of these tensions and would like to see it worked out through a process of arbitration.”

Del Rosario said he and Kerry "spoke at length about the situation in the West Philippine Sea."

"More importantly, Secretary Kerry assured me that the US is committed to supporting the efforts of the Philippines to settle the disputes peacefully and in accordance with the rule of law," Del Rosario said.

The DFA chief and Kerry also agreed to "work together in the context of the ASEAN and other related meetings this year on addressing the situation in the West Philippine Sea.

US-China relations 'solid and robust'

At a press briefing at the Chinese embassy in Manila on Tuesday, an official of think tank China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), said that the United States won't go too far in supporting the Philippines and Japan in their territorial disputes with China.

Ruan Zongze, vice president and senior research fellow at the CIIS, emphasized that China will not engage in international arbitration initiated by Manila.

Click this link for full story: ‘US won’t go too far in backing Phl, Japan in sea dispute’

CIIS is the think tank of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It conducts research and analysis on a wide range of foreign policy issues.

“I assume the Philippine side sees that this might be the opportunity to assert the sovereignty claim over Panatag Shoal (Huangyan). Because you are a treaty ally of the Americans so they will support you. But China and US relationship is pretty solid and robust,” Ruan told reporters at the embassy.

Bilateral talks

Beijing has consistently refused to discuss the territorial row under any arrangement save bilateral negotiations between the Philippines and China.

The Philippines has been claiming that Scarborough Shoal, which triggered a standoff between Manila and Beijing in April last year, is within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines as provided for by the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea. China, on the other hand, has been claiming the territory on the basis of historical claims.

Zhang Hua, Deputy Chief of Political Section and Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy, said the "disputes on South China Sea should be settled by parties concerned through negotiations."

"This (settlement of disputes through negotiations) is also the consensus reached by parties concerned in the DOC (The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea)," Zhang  had said.










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